Bacon Meatballs

Meatballs. Bite-sized chunks of meat. Oh yeah.

Do you like meatballs? No? What’s wrong with you? Meatballs are awesome. Oh, you actually said “Yes?” Glad to hear it. Here’s a recipe for meatballs that are even better than the meatballs you already love. I originally got it from Trident Crossfit, but I’ve changed it a little to suit my tastes. I’ll make some notes at the end about what I changed and why.

Ingredients

12 oz bacon
3 lbs ground beef
3 eggs
1 small onion (diced and drained of as much liquid as possible)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tbsp dried italian herb seasoning
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
salt and pepper to taste (probably not that much salt because of the bacon)
Your cooking oil of choice (I like olive oil. Trident recommends coconut oil)

Equipment
Food processor
Large bowl
Pan
Cookie sheet or Crockpot (choose one)

Process the bacon in your food processor until it looks kind of like hamburger. You don’t want super big chunks, but you also don’t want bacon mousse; go for something in between.

Bacon mousse is bad. Moose bacon might have possibilities.

Once you’ve processed it, put the bacon into a large bowl along with the ground beef. Add the eggs, diced onion, minced garlic, and italian herb seasoning.

Now, you’ve got a decision to make. How much do you like spicy food? The answer to that question determines how much of the can of chipotle peppers you’re going to put in. Not a fan of spice? Use 1 pepper and about a teaspoon of the adobo sauce. Really like the heat? Go for the whole can. Personally, I like about 3 peppers and about a tablespoon of the sauce.

However many of the chipotles you decide to use, put them into the food processor (with however much sauce you’re using) and turn them into a paste. Add this to the bowl.

Get ready to get messy.

Add a little salt and pepper to the bowl and start mixing everything together. I recommend just washing your hands well and using them for mixing, but if that grosses you out, I guess you could try a big spoon. Get everything pretty evenly distrubuted, but don’t mix it into a paste.

Nice and even. (Again, don’t make mousse)

Now, form this mixture into meatballs. It may be helpful to use a tablespoon or a small disher to keep the meatballs the same size, but honestly you could eyeball it and be fine.You may want to form the entire batch into meatballs before you start cooking. At least form enough to fill the pan.

If you only make twelve at a time like I did, then you’re in for some multitasking fun while you try to cook meatballs and form more at the same time. Good luck and Godspeed.

Now, add your cooking oil to the pan and heat it over medium-high heat. You want enough oil to fully cover the bottom of the pan, but you’re not deep frying these things, so keep it to maybe an eighth of an inch deep. When the pan is hot, add a few meatballs. You don’t want to “crowd the pan” (Look at me, using fancy TV chef lingo!). That means there should be about an inch between the meatballs. Unless you have an exceptionally large pan, you’re probably not going to be able to do more than 12 at a time.

Leave them a little room to breath.

Let the meatballs cook for about 1 minute before you check the bottom of one. If it looks nice and brown, start turning them over. If not, give them another minute. You should turn the meatballs at least three times, browning a new side each time.

Brown at least three sides. Go for a fourth if you feel like reaching for the stars.

You’ve got a choice of what to do now. You can either finish the meatballs in the oven or in a crockpot. If you’re making these for a party or something, finishing them in the crockpot will keep them warm and ready to go for hours. If you’re just making meatballs for dinner, the oven will finish them faster and make the outsides a little crispier. So, play “choose your own adventure” and do one of the following:

  • When the first batch is done, move them onto the cookie sheet. and start cooking the next batch in the pan. When you’ve filled the cookie sheet with meatballs, bake them in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes. This will make sure that the centers get done. Depending on the size of your cookie sheets, you may have to bake them in more than one batch.

OR…

  • When the first batch is done, move them into a crockpot set on low and start cooking the next batch in the pan. Repeat until all of your meatballs are in the crockpot. Let them cook on low for at least an hour. You can keep them in there for longer, but an hour will make sure the centers are done.
I chose to do them on a cookie sheet. 10 minutes worked just right.

I like to serve these over spaghetti squash, with or without a tomato sauce. They’re also excellent on their own.

Notes:
  • The original recipe called for 2lbs of ground beef and 1lb of ground pork. Feel free to change up the meats that you use. The only caution I’d give is to be careful if you use something super lean like ground turkey breast. Really lean meats tend to dry out. You’re probably OK to use most meats because of the fat in the bacon; I used 93% lean ground beef and it was fine.
  • Trident Crossfit recommends adding a little almond meal if your meatball mixture is too wet. I haven’t had to do that, probably because I skip the jar of roasted red peppers that their recipe asks for.
  • You really need to drain your onion. You can do it fast with a clean tea towel. Just put the diced onion in the center of the towel and gather the edges around it to make a pouch. Now wring out the pouch and the onion juice will be taken care of.
  • This recipe makes a lot of meatballs. I ended up with about 5 dozen. As Trident Crossfit suggests, you can freeze them.
  • Since you’re using the food processor anyway, you might as well use it to dice the onion and garlic. They should be chopped really finely for this recipe, which can be a pain to do with a knife.
  • If you’re in Alexandria, VA looking for a Crossfit affiliate, Trident is a great place with nice people. Chriss and Andrea helped run my Crossfit Level 1 Certification course, and they were both awesome.
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